Groundhog forecasts 6 more weeks of winter; students dubious

The groundhog Punxsutawney Phil is pictured here after one of his predictions. Phil has been the token groundhog since the late 1800s.

From @punxsutawneyphilofficial

The groundhog Punxsutawney Phil is pictured here after one of his predictions. Phil has been the token groundhog since the late 1800s.

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Groundhog’s Day has been a tradition in the U.S. for over 120 years. Celebrated every Feb. 2, it has garnered a cult following across the U.S. The gist of the holiday is that a large rodent, namely a groundhog, is pulled out of its burrow to see if it casts a shadow. The people holding the groundhog will relay its vision to the public: if the groundhog casts his shadow, then everyone is in for six more weeks of winter, but if the groundhog does not see his shadow, spring is predicted to come early.

While no one knows the exact origins of Groundhog’s Day, the history of predicting spring’s arrival long precedes the modern day rodent weatherman. Before groundhogs were used, the shadows of candles were tested to determine the how long the cold would last in a German holiday known as Candlemas. The theory is that German immigrants in the 1700s brought over their tradition of Candlemas, and around the 1880s some entrepreneurs thought they could make money off this holiday selling tickets and later TV deals if the central figure was alive and fuzzy; thus, Groundhog’s Day was born. However, Groundhog’s Day is seldom celebrated as mainstream due to its little known origins or significance.

I don’t think the groundhog knows what it’s doing”

— Nikolaus Elsaesser

“I have never celebrated [Groundhog’s Day], because I don’t think it’s not really a real holiday,” ninth grader Senai Assefa said.

Despite its dubious validity as a holiday or accurate weather predictor, the American public has continued the tradition of Groundhog’s Day. One the most famous contemporary groundhogs is Punxsutawney Phil, from Pennsylvania. Phil has been tasked with predicting the arrival of spring since 1887. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club takes care of Phil and members of the “Inner Circle” wake him from his slumber every Feb. 2. Of the 120 recorded predictions, there have been 103 forecasts of more winter and 17 forecasts that spring was coming early. One time, Phil took his predictions to a whole new level: during Prohibition, Phil supposedly threatened 60 more weeks of winter if he wasn’t given a drink.

This Groundhog’s Day, Phil allegedly saw his shadow, meaning winter will remain for another six weeks. Despite Phil’s prediction, many students are skeptical about relying on a rodent for their weather forecast.

“I don’t think the groundhog knows what it’s doing,” senior Nikolaus Elsaesser said.

Whether students believe the rodent or not, Groundhog’s Day is a light-hearted holiday to break up the dreary cold. Even if Phil had not seen his shadow, one thing is for sure: the Minnesota winter is not going anywhere soon.

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